Food closet: Need up, donations down

More families asking for help, volunteers say
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
-A +A
The 45 boxes of food Jim Rutherford pulled out of his truck Tuesday will last for about a week. Rutherford, a volunteer with the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet in Auburn, said he’s one of the volunteers who makes the weekly trip down to the Placer County Food Bank to get what supplies they can for needy families in the Auburn area. This week he’s hauled in some desserts, deli items and bread but other weeks he and other volunteers are not so lucky. “You never know what you’re going to get,” volunteer Orville Harshburger said. “Sometimes we get boxes of artificial vanilla flavoring.” While food closet volunteers don’t know what they will get from week to week, they know what they need. In the week surrounding Thanksgiving, volunteers served more families than normal, said volunteer Barbara Tellman. The closet served 217 families in the three days leading up to Thanksgiving and served 73 on the Monday after, which is typically a slow day for the food closet, Tellman said. In November, 961 households requested and received food from the nonprofit operation. “Unfortunately giving has gone down,” Tellman said. “We have recently received smaller donations during the Stuff-a-bus and Kidz Kan drive, including smaller total monetary donations.” On Tuesday, Henry Ramirez and his family were one of a handful of families waiting their turn to receive some needed staples. “I need many things because I don’t have a job,” Ramirez said. “I’m looking for work — anything.” Ramirez said it was the second time he and his family members, which include his sister and brother-in-law and their children have asked for help from the food bank. He said they will make the bags of food they received Tuesday last for two to three weeks. “We eat a little,” Ramirez said. Volunteer Patti Ward-Ratcliffe said everyone is aware of how much less food they have to give to the growing number of families knocking on their door. “We start each session with a prayer,” Ward-Ratcliffe said. “It’s keeps us on track so we don’t judge people and we just hope that we have enough.” Jenifer Gee can be reached at ---------- Food closet need by the numbers 65: families served Monday before Thanksgiving 82: families served Tuesday before Thanksgiving 70: families served Wednesday before Thanksgiving 73: Families served Monday after Thanksgiving 961: Total families served for November ----------- For more information about the Auburn Interfaith Food Closet, visit or call (530) 885-1921 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. -----------